Global nails UFL title with 3 games to spare
MANILA, Philippines—Unrelenting after a sputtering start, Global punctuated its dominance of the United Football League season with another brilliant display Thursday night.
Sharp and incisive, Global unleashed another attacking game to overwhelm Pachanga Diliman, 7-2, and clinch the championship with still three games left in its schedule at Emperador Stadium.
Skipper Jason de Jong led by example with his work at midfield, but it was the two goals each from Izzo El Habbib, Angel Guirado and Milad Behgandom and a sublime free kick from Jeffrey Christiaens that sealed maximum points.
Global built an unassailable seven-point gap at the top even after Kaya beat Pasargad, 3-0, in the earlier match.
Global bowed to reigning Cup winner Loyola Meralco, 0-4, last January in a horrendous start to the season.
But Dan Palami’s side lost only once since Jan. 18, ripping the field with an astonishing 93 goals while conceding just 20 in 21 of its 24-match schedule.
“It has been an incredible journey,” said Palami, his heartbreak from losing the AFC Challenge Cup as Azkals manager eased by the UFL victory.
“We were quite worried in our first game but I’m glad the players and the coaching staff responded well to the challenge.”
Global coach Leigh Manson, who replaced Brian Reid at the start of the season, said his team exceeded expecations.
“To be as far ahead with three games left and scoring an awful lot of goals is beyond expectations,” he said. “The players delivered week in, week out.”
Pachanga failed to stop wave after wave of Global attack. There was more than enough firepower from the Global side even without leading scorer Mark Hartmann who was sidelined by injury.
El Habbib beat the offside trap and finished past Kim Versales in the 23rd minute, before Guirado made it 2-0 after sending a lovely chip to the top corner.
It was 3-0 just before halftime with Behgandom finishing from close range after swapping passes with El Habbib.
David Fornea and Nate Burkey gave Pachanga a lifeline but Guirado answered right back with Global’s fourth goal after five minutes, converting De Jong’s cutback and Christiaens’ curling free kick restored the three-goal advantage before Behgandom and Elhabib bagged their second goals.
“We have set the benchmark (in the UFL),” said Manson.